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19th Jan 2023

Jacinda Ardern announces shock resignation as New Zealand prime minister

Jack Peat

Jacinda Ardern New Zealand smoking ban

She has dealt with a pandemic, a terrorist attack, a volcanic eruption and gave birth to her 1st child in office

Jacinda Ardern has announced she will be stepping aside as prime minister of New Zealand.

In an emotional speech at the New Zealand Labour party’s annual caucus meeting, the 42-year-old said it was “time” to step down after almost six years in the job.

She told reporters that her last day would be no later than February 7th and that a general election will be held on October 14th.

Fighting back tears, she said: “I hope I leave New Zealanders with a belief that you can be kind but strong, empathetic but decisive, optimistic but focused … that you can be your own kind of leader, one who knows when it’s time to go.”

Reacting to the news, political activist Femi Oluwole said Ardern had led one of the most successful Covid responses on the planet.

Journalist Ashleigh Stewart, meanwhile, listed that she had also dealt with a terrorist attack, a volcanic eruption and giving birth to her first child in her five years as prime minister.

Ardern’s liberal Labour Party won re-election two years ago in a landslide of historic proportions, but recent polls have put her party behind its conservative rivals.

She was lauded globally for her country’s initial handling of the coronavirus pandemic after New Zealand managed for months to stop the virus at its borders. But that zero-tolerance strategy was abandoned once it was challenged by new variants and vaccines became available.

The PM faced tougher criticism at home that the strategy was too strict.

Ardern in December announced a Royal Commission of Inquiry would look into whether the government made the right decisions in battling Covid-19 and how it can better prepare for future pandemics. Its report is due next year.

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